75: Edgar Harrell: A WWII Survivor’s Story of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Edgar Harrell owned and operated the Pella Window Company, Inc., Rock Island, Illinois for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1985. During the years 1970 to 1985, he served on the board of trustees of the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a popular Bible teacher and lay minister throughout his adult life.

He has enjoyed many years of fishing and big game hunting in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico and currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee with his wife Ola, together enjoying their two children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis, Mr. Harrell speaks extensively around the United States about his experience at sea.

Key Points

1. Embrace Your Duties

We all have duties to fulfill.

We all have missions to complete and causes to serve.

For Edgar, his duty was to serve his country.

He didn’t question it, he didn’t complain about it, he didn’t fight it.

He knew what was required of him and he went out and did it.

While some of you may feel that it is your duty to serve in combat, for the vast majority of you, your duty is different.

For some of you, your duty is to overcome resistance and start the business that you have been dreaming of.

For some of you, your duty is to overcome your conditioning and be the parent and husband you need to be.

And for some of you still, it is to share your message and impact the world, even though you are scared of rejection and failure.

We all have a duty to this world.

We all have an impact to make.

The only question that remains is, “Will you embrace yours?”

2. Tragedy is Often a Blessing in Disguise 

Edgar was onboard one of the ships carrying materials to build atomic weapons.

And while many of us see the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a tragedy, according to Edgar and many of his friends (Both American and Japanese), the bombing was actually a blessing in disguise.

It is his belief that taking a more conventional approach in the Pacific Theater and deploying 2,000,000 U.S. soldiers would have resulted in more death and destruction than resulted from the bombings.

And while you can feel free to agree or disagree with his opinion, what you cannot disagree with is the lesson he took away from the experience.

Our greatest blessings often come disguised as tragedies.

Getting laid off at work can be the push that you need to go into business for yourself.

Breaking up with a long time girlfriend can be a catalyst for massive personal growth and real success with women.

You never know what silver lining you will find in your darkest days.

So be willing to look for the blessings in your life.

No matter how obscure they might seem.

3. You Need to Have Something to Keep You Going 

You are going to face dark times.

At some point in your life, you will be forced into a corner, with your back against a wall and a whole sea of struggles in front of you.

And you will think to yourself, “Can I really make it?”

In times like these, you must have something that keeps you going.

If all you are focused on is yourself, then you will fail, you will succumb to the pressure, and you will drown.

But if you have something greater pushing you forward, if you are focused on your friends, your family, or the impact that you can create, you will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Figure out what it is that keep you going, and you will become unstoppable.

4. Submit to a Higher Power 

Whether you are religious or not, there will come a time in your life where you need to submit to a higher power.

Whether it is God, the Universe, or Mother Nature, you are going to face obstacles and trials that you may not feel you can overcome on your own.

In times like these, you must simply submit.

Take all of your goals, all of your dreams, all of your ambitions and give them up to the universe.

This does not mean that you relinquish your responsibility for the hard work and hustle necessary to bring them to fruition.

It just means that you are willing to accept that there are forces at play outside of your control.

Accept that you are not omnipotent and allow God or the universe to guide your path.

5. Learn to Appreciate the Small Things

When Edgar was out at sea, he learned to appreciate the small things, from a small swig of clean water to a brief time of respite from the battering waves.

In your own life, learn to appreciate the small things.

Enjoy those small moments that make life worth living.

Whether it’s the smell of freshly cut grass, the wind on your face, your girlfriend sleeping next to you, or the taste of coffee in the morning, enjoy it.

Life is short.

Learn to appreciate it.

Connect with Edgar Harrell

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